Ice Network

New partnerships bring mixed results on 'DWTS'

Rumba proves challenging for White; Davis excels at Argentine Tango
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Valentin Chmerkovskiy showed a little affection toward Meryl Davis as the team faced the judges. -ABC

It was a Dancing with the Stars first -- this week, the remaining nine celebrities danced with new partners, as voted on by the public on Twitter. Charlie White danced a rumba with Peta Murgatroyd and Meryl Davis was paired with Valentin Chmerkovskiy for an Argentine Tango.

While White and Murgatroyd heard some criticism from the judges -- scoring seven, eight and two nine's -- entertainment reporter Kristyn Burtt, host of AfterBuzz TV's DWTS recap/critique show, said she liked the performance. White and Murgatroyd each slicked their blonde hair back, which Burtt thought gave them an interesting appearance.

"It made it kind of an androgynous look," Burtt said. "Len Goodman focused in so much on 'those weren't rumba hips,' but I thought that there was heat and there was chemistry. On the technical side, there are things you can pick apart, but this is a side of Charlie we haven't seen yet. It was really nice to see him on a more sexy, masculine level, which was interesting."

When White spoke to icenetwork two weeks ago, he was honest in saying hip action was challenging.

"It's something that you have to learn how to separate your ribcage from your hips and move both independently," White said.

"I feel the judging and the scoring were a little bit low," Burtt said. "I think it gives Charlie an idea of where he needs to step up to."

Davis and Chmerkovskiy duplicated the score she'd received for her foxtrot with his older brother, Maksim, last week: one nine and three 10's. Guest judge Julianne Hough told Davis, "I would love to dance like you. You are so beautiful."

"You could tell the chemistry was working, and they were really feeling every moment," Burtt said. "There was an intent behind each movement. ...Every once in a while you can see a flash of her forgetting to point her toes, but then she snaps right back into place. She understands the technique behind it, what she needs to do, and she delivered, big time."

Both dance pros traveled to Florida, where Davis and White were rehearsing for and then performing with Stars on Ice. Chmerkovskiy said his schedule with Davis was insane, with her coming into dance rehearsals after a full day on the ice. Although Davis admitted she was exhausted, she never complained and was game to do whatever Chmerkovskiy asked of her.

"I come from a competitive ballroom background and she comes from, obviously, a competitive ice skating background, so we clicked in that sense. We both understand the workload. Anything that is of value requires some sort of sacrifice. Whatever it takes, you're willing to give because the final product will reflect all the effort," Chmerkovskiy said.

Chmerkovskiy said he's a tough taskmaster, as he felt a responsibility to ensure that Davis performed at her best.

"She accepted my direction and trusted me, knowing that I will do whatever it takes to make her look good," Chmerkovskiy said. "We choreographed something extremely challenging. When you have an opportunity to do something great, I always try to seize that opportunity. I felt responsible to deliver Meryl in a light that she deserves to be delivered in. Meryl is an incredible talent. She's an incredible person.

"I wanted the dance that we worked on to be a dance that she can remember and walk away proud."

The dance didn't truly come together until show day on Monday. Chmerkovskiy said performing with Davis was amazing, and he danced with her like he would with a professional ballroom partner. This wasn't easy because ballroom and ice dancing are very different.

"The movement is similar maybe in its aesthetic, but it's completely different in its mechanics," Chmerkovskiy said. "You access a drastically different muscle group. You have to access a completely different train of thought in terms of transferring your weight from foot to foot.

"We all know [Meryl and Charlie have experience], and because we know that we challenge them beyond their abilities, no matter how big their abilities are," he said. "That routine was not something that came easy to her.

"You saw that kind of greatness not because she came in knowing how to do that but because she came in able to do something, and we pushed her to go beyond that."

Next week, the original partnerships resume. Davis and Maksim Chmerkovskiy will tackle a samba, and White and Sharna Burgess will perform a jazz routine.